If you’ve been playing League of Legends for long enough, then you’ve probably come across LoL lethality at some point. Maybe you’ve picked up Youmuu’s Ghostblade or the Edge of Night, you’ll notice one thing that both of these items have in common, lethality.
So what exactly is lethality and what does it do? Does it increase your damage? Make you crit more? Or maybe it’s just Riot’s way of saying more attack damage. Well, we’re here to explain how LoL lethality works.
So get out your notepad and be ready to take some notes, this could be a game changer for you!
Lethality is a new statistic that was introduced to League of Legends at the start of 2017 as part of the assassins update. It was introduced in order to replace flat armor penetration which Riot thought needed a bit of an update.
Before lethality came along there was something called flat armor penetration that was deemed way too op by many players. Flat armor penetration allowed assassins and other big hitters to stack up armor pen and unleash their fury on squishy champions. This often resulted in enemies being “1 shotted” which kinda made the game suck. It’s not really a matter of skill when you can delete your opponent off the map in 1 hit. Something had to be changed.
Although the name has been completely changed, the whole armor penetration concept is very similar to what it was before with a few tweaks to make it less OP.
Like all things in League of Legends, there is always some complicated formula behind how an individual statistic works. In this case, the formula is not that complicated, but it’s important to understand.
The formula is:
Flat Armor Penetration = LETHALITY x (0.6 + 0.4 x Target’s Level ÷ 18)
For most people, this might be a bit confusing so let’s break it down, so you understand.
On the left-hand side, we have flat armor penetration which will be a number we get when we’ve solved the right-hand side of the equations. Simple so far.
The lethality variable is the amount of lethality you get from an item. Currently, there are 4 items that grant lethality in game ranging from +10 to +15. These items include things like Duskblade of Draktharr and Serrated Dirk.
The target’s level is the level of the enemy you are inflicting damage on and the rest of the numbers are constant. As you can see, it’s not as complicated as it looks.
Now we’ve got the formula down, let's take a look at some examples and how this would work in game.
In this first example, we will assume we have the Edge of Night which grants +15 lethality and we are attacking a level 1 champion. Although we know it's very unlikely you’ll have this item at level 1, bare with us.
So there’s the formula with all the variables filled in. You can see we have swapped the lethality variable for 15 and the targets level for 1. The formula gives us an answer of 9.3 recurring, but what exactly does this mean?
9.3 lethality causes a level 1 enemy champion to take damage as if its armor was 9.3 less. This means an enemy champion with 50 armor would be treated as if it had 40.7 armor for damage calculation. However, unlike the other statistic armor penetration which actually does reduce an enemy's armor, lethality does not change the value of the enemies armor. This basically means if an ally was to attack the same enemy as you they will have the full 50 armor assuming they have no lethality.
Now having +15 lethality at level 1 and attacking a level 1 might seem a bit unrealistic, so what about attacking an enemy at level 18 with +15 lethality? Let’s take a took.
In this formula you can see we’ve kept the lethality the same at +15 but we’ve upped the target’s level to 18, giving us a final number of 15 also.
This means that when we attack a level 18 enemy, they take damage as if they had 15 less armor, without actually affecting their current armor value. Although it might not seem like a lot of armor penetration as some champions often have 100 or more armor at level 18, lethality does stack with other armor reducing stats. There are also several lethality items available which can all be stacked to grant +30 or even +45 lethality.
Another important thing to note is that lethality cannot reduce armor below 0 unlike other statistics.
After reading all of that above this was probably the first thing that pops up into your mind, and it’s a very good question. Armor penetration reduces the target's armor significantly more and for everyone else attacking the same champion, so why would you bother with lethality?
Lethality was introduced at the start of the 2017 season along with the new assassins rework. The point of lethality isn’t to target tanks; the reason is to deal true damage to mid laners, ADCS and squishy champions. This is obviously perfect for assassins who want to deal extra damage but not ideal for champions who want to damage tanks. Instead, they should go for armor penetration which takes a percentage of the armor off the enemy.
So as long as you’re not up against a tank with 200 armor, then lethality can be great for ADCs, mid laners and junglers who want to destroy enemies as fast as possible.
Now you know why LoL lethality is so important, the next time you’re in a game and need to deal some more damage, be sure to stock up on lethality!